The Society for Medical Anthropology has issued the draft of its position statement on health insurance reform in the United States and globally. The working paper is the result of a year-long collaborative process collecting ideas and information from scholars of health systems and health reform around the world, with the final version co-authored by Sarah Horton, Cesar Abadía, Jessica Mulligan, and Jennifer Jo Thompson.
After providing a general overview of health insurance reform, the Reform document highlights important questions to consider about reform, from how health insurance is part (or not) of a social contract to the role of health policy in failed states. The draft position then examines core ways that anthropologists can contribute to the debate, from analyzing the impact of reform on the ground to studying those in power who are setting policy.
The Society for Medical Anthropology is now looking for feedback on the Health Insurance Reform draft.
One of the aims of the CAGH task force is to galvanize discussion of health insurance reform–both in the US and across the globe. What pressing issues should medical anthropologists be addressing in the study of health insurance reform, and how are these playing out in your area of study? And, equally importantly, how can medical anthropologists contribute to the public discussion of this vital issue?
Here is a taste of the main document to galvanize some reactions:
Facing escalating health care expenditures as well as rising numbers of uninsured, the US is widely considered the most inefficient and inequitable health care system in the developed world (Reid 2010). Even as roughly 20 percent of Americans lack health insurance, health care expenditures currently consume about 17 percent of the US Gross Domestic Product—nearly twice the amount as in any other developed country. Despite the fact that the US spends more per capita on health care than any other country, its basic health indicators still fall far below its peers.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010—if fully enacted—aims to reduce the number of the uninsured through the simultaneous expansion of the private insurance industry and government-funded Medicaid. Yet critics charge that it will neither achieve universal health insurance nor significantly reduce rapidly rising health care costs (Relman 2011). While proponents argue that the reform is a move in the right direction, others fear that it largely leaves the nation’s inequitable, costly, and fragmented employer-based system intact.